My BMW GS 1200 Rallye Seat Debacle is a somewhat embarrassing story but I share it hoping to help other really short BMW GS 1200 riders. Riding this fantastic bike is thrilling, exciting, and easy to do. I ordered the lowered model and was able to touch the ground with the ball of one foot. However, what is not easy is parking and maneuvering a loaded GS 1200 at a slow speed using your legs. On a flat surface with the gas tank near empty and no luggage or gear on the bike, I had no problem. But in real life, rarely do such circumstances exist. So, I began to search for ways to get more of my feet on the ground.
I began my quest to get more grounded by looking for a new seat. I did not like the pillion seat set up that was stock on my bike. To me it was wide and thick with foam– extra cushion a small, petite person does not need.
I loved the bench seat on my other bikes because the style gave plenty of room to move forward and back during long rides and on off-road terrain. The Rallye seat offered by BMW is what I wanted for my riding style. My local dealer put the Rallye seat on my bike for a trial ride around the parking lot. But, the Rallye low seat is wide, and even less of my foot touched the ground.
Custom Seat Option 1
I still wanted the bench style so I contacted a local merchant who specialized in custom motorcycle seating. When he quoted me $600 to customize the Rallye seat, I balked. First, I would have to purchase the Rallye seat at near $600, and then pay to have it customized. He convinced me that he could save me the money on purchasing a new seat. He proposed to take the stock seat and the pillion seat, modify both and give me a bench like combination with less bulk to help me be more grounded. I paid for the customized stock seat and he gave it to me within a week.
The workmanship was good but the result was not the bench seat I wanted. The pillion platform was way higher than the rider seat. The result was a gap that was unsightly, nor could I move backward and forward on the seat. My feet did touch the ground nearly flat footed on both sides but the seat was uncomfortable with little ventilation. This made for a long, hot and sweaty day in the saddle on my first ride with the new seat. I knew I would have to spend more money and find another seat.
After Market Seat Option
Next, I ordered the Touratech extra low seat. Once again the price tag was around $600 but what’s a short girl going to do with a beautiful and exciting GS 1200 without a seat? The Touratech seat arrived in record time and it was superbly made in true Touratech fashion. It fit perfectly and I was flat footed on both legs while seated. The ugly gap between the rider and passenger seat was still there; but, hey—I could touch the ground! The seat is smooth, without seams and I did not feel hot and sweaty sitting on it in the garage. I decided to give it a try with a 1200– mile weekend trip. It was a very unhappy ending as I came home with pressure points and blisters on my butt. The seat is as hard as stone and I my thought was I cannot ride my motorcycle with this seat. Modifications with a sheepskin seat cover and a Hawk Air seat cushion failed to improve the situation. Both made the seat higher and I was back to only the balls of the feet on the ground. I still needed another seat.
Custom Seat 2
I called another custom seat dealer, this one with multiple fantastic reviews. The dealer was experienced with modifying the Rallye seat. He worked by appointment with the rider in his shop for the entire custom seat build. He wanted height and weight measurements, photos of me on my bike and of course the Rallye seat pan. His method involved stripping away the stock foam and rebuilding the seat from the pan up. His estimate for this service: $700. Plus, I had to supply the seat pan and that cost to me was an additional $600. Because his shop location is over 300 miles from me I would have to take a day off work and have a hotel stay to make the appointment. But, I booked it anyway because I needed a new seat.
Custom Seat 3- Do It Yourself
I was sick with the notion of all the wasted money and still no seat. I started doing a little internet research on how seats are customized and on upholstery modifications for automobiles, choppers and other motorcycles. With my appointment only 5 days away, I decided I had nothing to lose by trying to customize the seat myself. Heck, the guy was going to cut off the foam anyway so if I messed it up it wouldn’t matter. I purchased a couple of tools and planned a do it yourself morning in the garage.
It took 10 minutes to remove the seat cover using a butter knife and needle nose pliers. Next I put the seat on the motorcycle and straddled it. I marked my leg position for touching the ground. Then, I assumed the riding position. I located my ischial tuberosity and inserted straight pins as markers into the seat foam. Then I drew marks with an ink pin to mark the point behind where my buttocks rested on the seat.
My markings gave me all the key points. I knew what part needed to be thinnest and lowest to help with walking and pushing the bike with my legs. I knew where my pressure points would be in the riding position, an important area to not cut away too much padding. And, I knew the depth of the foam in the areas of my planned cut by the long straight pins I had inserted when I made the markings. I made a pattern for the area I would cut away under my legs. I traced the pattern on each side making sure my modifications would be symmetrical.
Cutting and Sanding
I started the cutting with short, sharp pointed craft scissors. Then I made smooth longer cuts with an electric kitchen knife made for carving meats at your holiday meal. I sat on the bike a few times and modified the cuts taking care to do the same thing on each side. Then I smoothed the cut area with sanding paper. All this marking, tracing, cutting, and smoothing took under two hours.
Replacing the Cover
The hardest part came when I tried to put the cover back on. The electric staple gun I had purchased for the job would not fire. My neighbor suggested that even if it did fire it would probably not be strong enough to penetrate the seat pan. He suggested an upholstery shop nearby that might help with this part. Sure enough, the shop made time for me on the spot. They applied a very thin layer of finishing foam for smoothness and stapled the cover back on. The job took them less than a half an hour. They accepted my donation of $30.
My Finished Product
Now I have the seat I always wanted for my fantastic motorcycle. It is comfortable and I can move freely all over the seat to suit my ride. I can touch the ground and push the bike around. And, I think it looks great on my bike. After nearly 5000 miles on my do it yourself seat my only regret is not doing it myself in the first place. I hope my story can help you have your perfect ride and save you some money.